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The Times

MICHIGAN CITY — Everything continues to click for Marquette Catholic.

Playing its fourth Class 4A school, the Class A Blazers paid no mind to the size of their opponent in Saturday's game at the Scholl Center.

Behind a swarming defense and big games from Sophia and Emma Nolan, Times No. 3 Marquette Catholic delivered a resounding 52-29 win over Times No. 2 E.C. Central.

"We wanted to out-tough them mentally and physically. We didn't want to be intimidated," Blazers coach Katie Collignon said. "We try not to think of size and think we can match-up with anybody, but to come out and perform like they did (Saturday) was remarkable."

Marquette Catholic (9-1) trailed 9-4 in the early goings of the first quarter before eventually tying it at nine by the end of the frame.

Behind a 3-pointer and then a steal and lay-up from Morgan Crook, the Blazers extended their run to 10-0 for a lead it wouldn't relinquish the rest of the way. Crook scored eight in the second quarter.

"Once we got our flow going, we were good," Crook said. "Defenses a lot of the times go to the twins and that opens up shots for our guards. When we get our guards scoring along with the posts, then that forces the other team to have all five playing defense at all times.

Crook matched her season-high with 11 points, including three 3s.

"She's such a good defender and when she can score like that, then it brings so much energy to our team and it draws a lot of pressure off Sophia and Emma," Collignon said. "She knocked down some big shots for us and gave us some momentum.

The Blazers broke it open in the third outscoring the Cards 15-5 as Emma Nolan scored seven of her 18 points. She earlier eclipsed 1,000 career points with a basket in the second quarter.

"It feels nice to have 1,000," Emma said. "Our offense was really patient (Saturday) and it has got like that over time. We used to just get the first shot up and try to score quickly but we were really patient with the ball (Saturday) and looked for all options."

The presence of the 6-foot-2 Nolan's frustrated 6-foot-6 Tai-yanna and 6-foot-3 Tiara Jackson as Tai-yanna was held to five points and Tiara fouled out with

"We're not not real deep so we had to go to our bench and then we made a few mistakes and they capitalized on them," E.C. coach Eric Kundich said. "Give credit to Marquette for making it tough on us to score because once that happened, I think we got a little frustrated and panicked and then that lead grew.

"It's tough to get out of a hole if you're playing a team as disciplined as them. This was a nice measurement game for us and we found out we're not there yet. We have to get back to work if we're going to pull off some of these wins here in the next three weeks.

E.C. Central (11-2) saw a seven-point halftime deficit grow to 18 by the end of the third and as much as 25.

"Sophia and I are used to playing bigger people from AAU, so the only thing we had to control was fouls," Emma said. "Our guards played amazing help-side and we have a good team defense overall that doesn't let teams get in the paint. When teams normally drive all the time, they don't know what else to do when they can't and that shakes them up a little bit."

Sophia Nolan had a game-high 21, including 12 in the fourth, as the team picked up their win over a 4A school this season.

"I told the girls afterwards that I'm so proud of their effort," Collignon said. "They really believe in what we're doing and how we're playing right now."

The Cardinals remained without their point guard in Boston College commit, Jenasae Bishop. She has been cleared to play by doctors and could be back in action as early as next Wednesday, based on the team's decision.

"She can play at any time now, but we're being careful with her," he said. "She's coming along nicely."

Kundich donned a cardigan sweater with the E.C. varsity letter on it in honor of coach Marvin Rea who passed away this past week.

"We weren't great friends, but I knew him and respected him," Kundich said of Rea. "I really respected what he did for kids in the northern part of Lake County for so many years. I wanted to wear this as a tribute to him."

Nia Hurt led the Cardinals with 13 points.


Sports Reporter

CJ grew up shadowing his father, Jim, at various prep events and now follows in his footsteps as a sports reporter at The Times. A Purdue University graduate, his allegiances lie with the Boilermakers, Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds.